As Bluetooth wireless technology heads for its "third generation," it is a sign of the near- insatiable global appetite for wireless services and communications. In densely populated areas, the cellular telephone has become the lifeline for many, the main means of contacting another party or of achieving reliable communications with a customer or business associate. As cellular telephones head for their "fourth generation," carriers prepare to embrace additional wireless technologies, such as WiMAX, in order to provide such advanced services and high-speed mobile Internet access and streaming video functionality.

Bluetooth has long appeared as one of those wireless technologies "looking for a home." It has always been designed as a short-range wireless technology, but never found its niche in merchandising the way that radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology did. Yet, Bluetooth is still with us, and becoming a more integral part of automotive electronics according to a new report from IMS Research. Bluetooth has survived severe pricing pressures early in its history to emerge as one of the more significant (and versatile) short-range wireless technologies.

If there is any one reason for this, it is the modern craving for convenience as a function of technology. The Bluetooth cellular-phone headset, for example is both a convenience and a legal requirement in many areas for automotive driving and cellular-phone use. Bluetooth was also widely adopted in laptop computers and peripheral devices as a convenience. In general, wireless technology is a convenience, a way to eliminate wires and simplify connections. For that reason, even the most "questionable" of wireless technologies will find an application, somewhere.

By Jack Browne, MWRF Technical Director